The Cubs train keeps on a rolling. The old formula worked just fine as Jon Lester was strong once again, and it has been to watch a turn through the rotation with every playoff starter looking strong. The Cubs offense has also done enough to assuage some fears about the lineup in the postseason. The deeper lineup has bested Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Mike Foltynewicz, and now Aaron Nola.
Nola was very strong at the start of the game and it looked like it might take an effort like the one against deGrom. The young righty star struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced. The Cubs batters struck out a total of 11 times against Nola in his 5.2 innings of work.
The Phillies made contact and hard contact earlier than the Cubs. Roman Quinn started the game smoking a ball to the wall in left center. He attempted to stretch the double into a triple, but Kyle Schwarber picked up yet another assit with a strike from deeper left-center. Jon Lester struck out Rhys Hoskins. José Bautista and Carlos Santana hit back to back singles with two outs, but the veteran lefty struck out Asdrúbal Cabrera to end the first.
Lester had a quick second inning after the Cubs went quietly in the top half of the frame. Nola's streak of strikeouts came to an end in the top of the third. Daniel Murphy was the only out during the first time through the order that included contact. The second plate appearance saw Murphy break the deadlock with a solo shot. Lester worked around a two out single to Hoskins.
The Cubs 1-0 lead was doubled to start the fourth inning. Anthony Rizzo launched his 23rd home run of the season to make it 2-0 game. The Cubs threatened to make it a big inning with Kris Bryant singling right after the Rizzo blast. Schwarber struck out and Willson Contreras bounced into an inning ending double play. Lester ran into trouble in the bottom half of the frame. Cabrera and Scott Kingery hit back to back one out singles. Pedro Florimón struck out for the second out, but Jorge Alfaro singled to load the bases. An easy groundball to David Bote off the bat of Nola kept the score at 2-0.
The two pitchers put up clean innings in the fifth, but the sixth saw the game break open for the Cubs. Javier Báez hit home run number 30 off of Nola making it a 3-0 game. Nola walked Rizzo in the next plate appearance. Kris Bryant struck out looking for the second out. Kyle Schwarber pulled a triple down the right field line to score Rizzo. In the bottom half of the frame, Cabrera won the third matchup with Lester with a one out double. He would have scored easily on pinch hitter Aaron Altherr's deep fly ball to center. Ian Happ twisted and turned a difficult play into an extremely difficult catch to end the inning.
Happ led off the seventh inning after the good catch, and hit a ball off the top of the wall in the left center gap. He raced to third for the triple that was upheld after review confirmed the ball was in play. Adam Morgan entered the game and he managed to shut down Albert Almora Jr. and David Bote each failing to drive in Happ.Murphy was unable to pick up his teammates. The ball never left the infield with two groundouts and a punchout to keep the score 4-0. Justin Wilson pitched a clean seventh.
Luis Garcia had a rough day at the office in the eighth inning. He isn't the first reliever nor likely the last to have this happen when facing the heart of the Cubs order. Báez led off with another triple. That made it three straight innings with triples from the Cubs batters. Rizzo drove in Javy with a single. Kris Bryant and Contreras walked to load the bases with one out. Happ scored Bryzzo with his double. Contreras scored on Almora's sacrifice fly. Jorge de la Rosa pitched a clean frame.
Yacksel Ríos kept the Cubs off the board, and the 8-0 lead was enough to trust Brandon Kintzler with in the bottom of the ninth inning. Kintzler struck out Dylan Cozens to start the inning, but Kingery reached on a clean single to right. Altherr struck out for the second out. Alfaro smacked a 3-2 pitch through the right side of the infield. Happ bobbled the ball which turned the base hit into a double for Alfaro. Kintzler's ERA didn't rise any higher though with Nick Williams grounding out to end the game.
The Cubs offensive onslaught began in the third inning. The Cubs hit three solo home runs to take an early lead that was more than enough for Jon Lester and company today. However, the Cubs poured on another five runs with a combined hit total of